I was looking for various articles on how the reformers
viewed Mary, and I came across this article in Christianity Today.
In some respects, considering the source, I thought it was
somewhat balanced. But I’m confused a little about this part:
Handmaiden of Faith
Contemporary Protestants are wise to listen to both the Reformers’ critique of Marian piety and their praise of Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord. Luther and all the Reformers strongly protested against the “abominable idolatry” of medieval Mariology. This is not too strong a term for some of the beliefs that prevailed at that time. For example, Mary was often portrayed as placating her stern son with milk from her breasts. This was one reason why Mary’s milk, supposedly preserved in reliquaries throughout Europe, was so highly valued.
Mary was seen as the one who intervened with Christ on behalf of sinners—she was a mediator with the Mediator. In this vein, various texts of Scripture were rewritten with a Marian slant: 1 Corinthians 15:22 became, “as in Eve all die, so also in Mary shall all be made alive.” And John 3:16 was rendered: “Mary so loved the world … that she gave her only-begotten son for the salvation of the world.” And, anticipating feminist liturgies half a millennium later, the Lord’s Prayer began: “Our Mother who art in heaven, give us our daily bread.”
This kind of exaggerated devotion, the Reformers held, does not praise the virgin mother of God but in fact slanders her by making her into an idol. Nowhere is the Protestant reaction to Marian excess more cogently put than in Philipp Melanchthon’s “Apology of the Augsburg Confession” (1530):
Some of us have seen a certain monastic theologian … urge this prayer upon a dying man, “Mother of grace, protect us from the enemy and receive us in the hour of death.” Granted that blessed Mary prays for the church, does she receive souls in death, does she overcome death, does she give life? What does Christ do if Mary does all this? . … The fact of the matter is that in popular estimation the blessed virgin has replaced Christ. People have invoked her, trusted in her mercy, and sought to appease Christ as though he were not a propitiator but only a terrible judge and avenger.
Did the church actually teach this, or where there just some
who went over the top? I know that the church now emphasizes
the fact that Mary’s role is only to point us to her son, and
Catholics neither pray, nor give adoration, the way they do
only to God, but I was just wondering if this a part of history,
that is being revised, and if so, would that be an argument against
(Please note, I am not in the slightest asking this to be polemical,
but as someone who is earnestly seeking truth, and probably as a
result, seem to be always involved with my Protestant brethren in
conversations that concern the misrepresentation of Catholic views and positions, I’d hate for this to be something that they could point to. If someone has some knowledge on this to put it
into perspective, I’d appreciate it.)